Freiburg, Stuttgart, and Rothenburg

This one time in college, I wanted to go to Freiburg to study a semester abroad.  I got into the program, passed the German test (I don’t know how), went to a few classes for the 1 credit course to prepare me to go, and then bailed.  I figured it would be a great experience, but it would set me back one whole year in college due to all the sequence classes I was going to take, that is, if I didn’t take a class in the fall, which was a requirement for a winter class, I’d have to wait one year.  Anyway, after visiting Freiburg, I don’t regret my decision.  Sure, it was a nice place, great scenery, small town, within the “Schwarzwald”, but Germany in the last 3 months of the year probably is not a great time to travel. 

After we checked in, a Bavarian, complete with lederhosen and accordion, joined us in our room.  He was followed by one of the staff, a German.  They proceeded to speak to each other in English. Apparently, Bavarians speak such a different dialect that no one else in Germany can understand them.  From what we understand, the rest of Germany thinks Bavaria is a “country of its own”.

Amazingly, almost everyone in Freiburg (and the rest of Germany, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands) cruises around in bicycles.  Anybody know where we can find this in America?? 

There wasn’t much to do in Freiburg except enjoy the scenery.  It is a fairly hilly area of Germany, coated with trees, and has buildings spotted all over the valleys.  Climbing to the top of the Schlossberg spire and getting a view of the city was the highlight of Freiburg.

After Freiburg, we made our way to Stuttgart.  Home of Daimler-Benz.  There are actually a few signs leftover that say DaimlerChrysler”.  Daimler has installed a state-of-the-art history museum of its company on its campus in Stuttgart.  It was one of the best museums I have been to.  The audio guides used wi-fi sensors to detect where you were in the museum and would activate when you walked into a new room.  And if you wanted more information on a specific car or whatever, you pushed this little button, and it knew exactly where you are.  The audio guide wasn’t what made this place (although it was pretty sweet), it was the fact that it started at the very beginning, showed how both Daimler and Benz companies struggled in the early 1900s, how and what the Mercedes tag did for the company, how they made it through 2 wars, then recovered after every Daimler plant was destroyed in WWII, and then the “Merger of Equals”, and also the future of automobiles and Daimler. All this jam packed in an eight story building shaped like a helix.  Pretty impressive. 

Also in Stuttgart, we got an extensive private guided tour of the city from one of Jill’s former water polo players that was an exchange student; a knowledgeable guy who taught us the history of the city.  

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a small medieval walled city, was one of the coolest cities we’ve been to so far.  We saw brochures in the train station for a Christmas store, and Jill was getting worried that we made four train changes to go to a city she could’ve gone to 1 hour north of Troy, Michigan called Frankenmuth.  Thankfully, the city was nothing like Frankenmuth.  We stayed in a pension, above a gift shop on a cobble stone street.  You could walk perimeter of the city on the wall next to the ramparts, and view the city from above. Everything was so crammed in.  It is almost stereotypical Germany (excluding the Bavarian stereotypes).  There isn’t a whole lot to do here, except walk around and enjoy the city. Eat some currywurst, and these things called “Schneeballen” or snowballs that are very similar to elephant ears that you’d get at a carnival.

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